Sonja Judith DeMiglio was born on November 22, 1944, in Jackson County, Ohio, as Sonja Judith Carter. The daughter of Clarence S. and Kathleen Carter, she is survived by her husband of 42 years, Paul Joseph DeMiglio, and son, Paul Anthony DeMiglio. She passed away on Monday, September 21, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio.
She was regarded by family and friends as a consummate treasure, demonstrating a fierce and committed love to many throughout an amazing legacy of boundless giving, reflecting a strength of character and wisdom defined by grace. No matter the hour, the day, or what was happening in her own life, Sonja was there for those around her, even in her final days. She is remembered as consistently giving her all to make life better for family, friends, and community every day. Beloved as a tower of resilience who sacrificed for others without complaint, she thought of herself last even when she needed help the most.
A devout Roman Catholic and woman of deep faith, she converted to the Church at the tender age of 12. Attending St. Mary Catholic School in Lancaster, Ohio, during her most formative years of middle school and high school, she forever cherished the kindness of the Dominican Sisters who, as she fondly recounted, “turned her life around,” teaching her to read and opening up doors to art, music, and scholarship she otherwise would never have realized were possible for her to pursue. She passed on her love for the arts and learning to her son Paul Anthony, whom she successfully homeschooled through high school many years later, drawing on her vast encyclopedic knowledge of language arts, history, and other subjects to round out his scholastic endeavors.
Sonja’s undying love for Christ, passion to serve the underserved, and steadfast commitment to give back to disadvantaged communities – often at great personal expense and sacrifice – motivated her pursuits in social work, mental health, and missionary outreach for more than 30 years, starting after she earned her Bachelor of Arts at The Ohio State University in the mid-1960s. Without fail, she went above and beyond what was required in all that she did, helping to bring about transformative change for the clients she served. Her measure of success was not determined by how much money she earned but was guided instead by a relentless determination to make a difference for the voiceless as their champion. She consistently spoke up to help break down systemic barriers for the children and families needing assistance, dignity, and most of all, compassion. From helping young Moms care for children, to providing food and other essentials to families in need, it gave her heart great joy to serve.
Sonja experienced the love of Jesus first-hand, accepting Him as her Lord and Savior in the 1970s, when she first became closely involved with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Over the next 40-plus years, she led a fervent life of prayer and parish involvement, giving of herself tirelessly to live out the Gospel of Love for the greater glory of God in all she said and did. From attending prayer vigils to helping organize potlucks and charity drives, she was a force who left everything and everyone better than she found them. As a wife and mother, Sonja was known for creating a welcoming space for the multitude of friends and family who would visit. As an avid gardener and talented cook, her contagious laughter, sharp wit, and beautiful smile never faded and made everyone feel special, seen, and hugged long after they left.
Her early volunteer experience in the 1970s was largely dedicated to helping the Missionaries of Charity in Kentucky, providing food, clothing, services, and spiritual counsel to those in need, especially in the Appalachian community, standing up to fight stigma and raise awareness through education too. Throughout her life, a constant and defining feature of how Sonja lived out her faith was in the way she loved all children of God unconditionally, accepting people from diverse walks for who they are, made in the Lord’s image. Inspired by a passage in Scripture, she would often remind her son, “Love is patient, love is kind. Love isn’t arrogant and doesn’t boast. Love doesn’t know race, ethnicity, identity, gender, or sexuality. Love is love. Every soul must find its way.”
Although sadness does not begin to describe the depth of grief and loss so many feel, family and friends are renewed in gratitude and hope because she ended her Earthly journey at peace, in comfort, and left for Heaven exactly the way she desired. We will never stop feeling Sonja’s love, learning from her rich legacy of a life well lived, and embracing the precious pearls of wisdom she left us through the powerful testimony of example.
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